Montrails in the snow

I ran in my new Montrail Mountain Masochist GTXs yesterday. I had to find something with Gore-Tex; these were 50% off at EMS, seemed comfortable, and didn't look too goofy. With sleet/snow forecast for today and my race on Saturday approaching, I planned yesterday as my last sub-8:00 run for the week. I'll do the club run on Thursday night, but that's really just to shake out my legs out before Saturday.

Anyway, the Montrails: other than seeing their shoes at REI over the years, I don't have any background with this brand. I wore them yesterday in some deep slush and icy snow and can now attest to their grippy soles and watertightness. I feared my feet would overheat in the Gore-Tex, but it didn't seem to be an issue. Of course, it was 23 degrees and windy; I imagine these shoes will get tucked away in a month or so when winter finally starts to wane. I know, I know, those who choose to live in the Northeast are not entitled to bitch about its weather. I'll just say how glad I am to have shoes to keep my feet warm.

I didn't hit the pace I hoped for yesterday, but I came close. I've been falling off my mileage totals and pace lately, so I guess it's not a surprise that running more than eight miles each day for the last few days should affect me. It still annoys me to feel as though I really pushed it and still finish with a 7:38 average moving pace. I was confident that I was cruising sub-7:30. I guess my GPS and my internal rhythm need to be synced.

The run itself was my standard route back from Central Park and 84th street. As usual, I doglegged my way over to the greenway by taking whatever traffic light was green. It made for a south-westerly route that allowed me to enter the park at 82nd street and meet the newish pathway just before the promenade. There was a rather strong breeze coming down the Hudson (my jaw was pretty frozen when I got home), but I've put up consistent 7:28s in breeze that strong. I was flagging a bit by mile six and at mile seven my pace slowed to 8:14 as I climbed the grade towards Washington Heights. 

I came off the greenway ready to be home. The Montrails were definitely a success: they gave me decent grip over the ice and snow and my feet were certainly warm. I'd gain a bit of traction with Yaktrax, but I'm not sure it would be worth losing the Gore-Tex and toastiness. Of course, I could wear both....

Drive-in Saturday

I joined the Inwood Hill Runners crew this morning for their Saturday morning run. I really like the social aspect of the group and it's great to be exploring new routes. Alex had the idea to run through Riverdale, so we ran up into the still-very-snowy Inwood Hill Park, hunted around for the path to the Henry Hudson Bridge crossing, and headed up into the hills. We passed those cool houses that seem to hang to the cliffs over Spuyten Duyvil and had some great views through their yards to the Palisades across the Hudson. Next time, perhaps I'll remember a camera. I have often wondered about those home overlooking the Hudson and Spuyten Duyvil Creek. They're very cool. Heading north and east, we passed Wave Hill, Riverdale Country School, Fieldston, and Horace Mann. With a few exceptions for new construction monstrosities, the homes in Riverdale are beautiful and timeless. They seemed especially so in the powdery goodness of freshly fallen snow. We meandered back down the hill to Broadway and finished through the park. It was a relaxing, conversational run. 

I decided to augment my morning run with a quicker run down the greenway to meet a friend at the super-awesome Community Food & Juice. I did manage to pick up the pace a bit for my solo outing, but there was so much sow and ice on the path that I had to proceed cautiously. I wasn't quite cautious enough, I guess, as I took a spill around 168th. I rolled though it and seemed to emerge unscathed, but I am left wondering how a grown man manages to fall down while running. 



Clear paths made for a nice run down the Hudson today. It was chilly when I left the apartment at about 4:00; the tempature dropped pretty quickly once the sun dropped behind the "hills" of New Jersey. I kept things pretty steady at 7:33. Much faster than that and my legs started feeling foreign. As always, the last mile or so was a mess of missed lights and too many pedestrians as I cut across from Riverside Park to Central Park West.

quick and dirty

All that rain last night made me optimistic about clear paths in Inwood Hill Park. Ha! I realize overnight showers and one 50 degree day are simply not enough to make this mess go away; the paths are still a muddy, slushy mess.

I wanted to maintain a sub-7:25 pace today and my watch indicates my moving average was 7:20. It felt good, although I had to come to a near stop a couple of times to negotiate icy mud puddles. Inwood Hill Park loops are far from my favorite, especially when I can't head up the path into the forest, and my one foray up the path into the trees proved I'd be risking injury to continue. So, round and around I went. I wore shorts for the first time in a few months and the cold on my legs was fantastic (although they were splattered with mud by the end). So, a bit of mud and some slush. Not too bad for January 2.

So that's why they put gore tex in running shoes

I was pretty pleased with myself on Thursday when I made it all the way down to 72nd with dry feet. With a 50 degree booster today, the loads of melting snow had its vengeance. I basically splashed my way south on the same route I took Thursday, zagging a bit across 84th to Amsterdam to make a stop at Super Runner's Shop. Sadly, they were closed for the holiday, but the extra little loop allowed me to hit my ten mile goal and still make it to Fairway without too much tomfoolery. 

For anyone running on city streets south from Inwood, I recommend Bennett Avenue through Washington Heights. Bennett provides a gradual climb its entire ten block length. From there, it's a block west on 181st to Fort Washington and you're pretty much home free all the way to 159th. This street running nonsense is necessary right now because the path down the Hudson is a snowy mess and the route up the south side of Fort Tryon park is treacherously icy: I nearly crashed down that hill on the last leg of my Christmas sixteen miler. After all the snow we had this week, I wouldn't even attempt that path in screw shoes. 

Seems worth noting that it's January 1. I'm excited to be running this year. Hoping I can keep the training schedule reasonable and well balanced with the other life priorities. If I continue running to or from appointments I think I'll be able to maintain my miles without it being too disruptive to those around me. 

While I'm noting things, I recommend the 2008 Haruki Murakami's book, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. I happen to be a Murakami nut, but you'd be hard pressed not to appreciate the observations he makes during his runs. It's not his best writing, but it's his best writing about running....

Mushing down the west side.

It is just warm enough now that the snow is going slushy. Really slushy. The streets and sidewalks are still a mess, so I knew I'd never make it down the path along the Hudson. I took a pretty basic route: Broadway to Bennett to Fort Washington to Riverside (Riverside is generally quiet and convenient; definitely the right choice if I'm running on city streets). The sidewalks were mostly clear along the route, but the intersections were in disarray: big piles of yellowing snow and deep slushy puddles. I avoided most of the mess and jumped the puddles. I somehow arrived at Trader Joe's without injury and with dry feet.

I used my new Garmin GPS watch yesterday. I'm generally useless at figuring out complex watch software, but I found training mode, captured my route and heart rate, and managed to upload it to the computer when I returned home. I appreciated being able simply to look at my wrist for current pace and heart rate information. Garmin Connect, the Web based tool they offer to track and share training information, relies on Bing/Microsoft mapping. It's pretty inelegant compared to Google's service. I think I can export the data to other training sites like MapMyRun, so perhaps I'll find a better mapping tool elsewhere.

I finally joined New York Road Runners and entered my name for the NYC Marathon lottery. Pretty slim chance of getting picked for the marathon through the lottery process. If nothing else, I should be able to earn a guaranteed entry in 2012. Planning for an event that's 23 months away seems nutty, but it'll keep me active. I signed up for a handful of shorter races, including the Manhattan Half Marathon on January 24. I won't be setting any records, but I now have a firm schedule of activities to get me through the winter. The daffodils should be breaking through by the time I run the Coogan's 5k on March 6.